[ EARTH 69 ]

Episode 2.21 | Dead Running Man Sliding

    Having exhumed and desecrated the remains of PTSS, the Pecker next set his sights on Nan Hagan's other would-be masterpiece: "Dead Man Sliding." Not content with demanding that the title be changed to reference a movie, he proceeded to deliver a page one rewrite centering around the second-most-preposterous trial in television history.

    We open on the Sliders checked into the Smackdown Hotel, on a strangely utopian world where wrestling is the only form of entertainment. For at least the millionth time, Quinn shows off a novelty photo of his head superimposed on Hulk Hogan's body, prompting Maggie and Colleen to pass around their own. Unsure of which image is the most bizarre but desperate to get out of seeing it again, Rembrandt blurts out a suggestion that they head down to Quinn's neighbourhood and see if this is home. Colleen then neatly excises herself from the remainder of the plot with a sudden decision to take up bungee jumping.

    In defiance of all logic, everything on Quinn's street does indeed suggest a return home. The gate still squeaks, the house itself is still a pile of rubble, and General Ggronak's humvee is still rear-ended. Just as Remmy is making plans to call Artie at the detention centre, he's accosted by none other than The Rock, who bellows "Do ya SMELL... what Mrs. Randall... is COOKIN'!"

    Having observed Rembrandt near the Mork humvee, the People's Champion charges him with "driving while black" and names Quinn and Maggie as accessories to the crime. He subdues them with the People's Elbow and drives them to The Rock National Penitentiary (formerly Alcatraz), where they await their turn on the country's #1 TV show, The People's Court.

    (As an aside, the lack of resemblance between The Rock and his portrayer -- washed-up sitcom star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs -- would be almost forgivable, if Hilton-Jacobs' costume didn't consist of a storebought T-shirt bearing the wrestler's name and photograph.)

    At the trial -- held in a packed wrestling venue containing a fully furnished courtroom -- the defendants realize that the system is stacked overwhelmingly against them. The Rock referees the proceedings in his role as the People's Proponent, or "judge, jury and prosecutioner," while the Sliders are represented by Jerry "The Lawyer" Lawler, an attorney so unpopular that his entrance music ("I Fought the Law") is entirely drowned out by jeers. After listening to a pair of trash-talk-filled opening statements, the Sliders raise their right eyebrows and swear to tell nothing but the truth... only to sit and watch while Lawler and The Rock whale on each other with chairs.

    An excerpt from one of the few parts of the trial that involve words:

    THE ROCK [badgering a reluctant witness]: You are three seconds away, and The Rock means three seconds away, from being found in contempt of ring, jabroni! So know your role, and open your mouth!

    During a recess, as Quinn and Rembrandt debate the merits of this world versus their own ("You have to admit, that Hulk Hogan photo booth is pretty awesome"), Maggie mistakes the writers' lounge for the bathroom and realizes -- to her complete shock -- that this legal system based on professional wrestling is a sham. Armed with a copy of the script, which ends with The Rock producing a doctored videotape of Rembrandt's crime (and using it to beat his opponent senseless), Maggie returns to the arena and exposes the WWE's perfidy (among other things.) The People's Proponent is unimpressed, until Maggie restates her case by beating him senseless with the videotape.

    And so, ignoring Lawler's pleas that this world hasn't seen a single murder since Kane slew Sable, The Rock uses his apparently limitless powers to impeach the much-loathed President McMahon and outlaw the entire judiciary that gave him said powers in the first place. Satisfied that they've thrown yet another world into upheaval and won't have to pay the $3 fine for driving while black, the trio heads off to find Colleen, who has been hanging from a cliff by her bungee cord the entire week. Not to worry: Quinn cuts the cord, sending her plummeting toward the jagged shoreline, then leads the others in jumping off the cliff (and, as an afterthought, opens the vortex.) Somehow, everyone manages to enter the gate in single file.

    Despite winning its timeslot in the all-important 18-to-49 IQ demographic, the episode was unanimously savaged in the press. "I can't smell what writer Nan Hagan is cooking," concluded one pundit, "but there's no missing the smell of what she cooked a couple of nights ago."

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